2016 Retrospective: Employment Numbers Doubled With Inclusion of ‘Indirect’ Jobs

Employment in apparel and textile manufacturing in California fluctuated slightly throughout the year but essentially held steady at around 105,000 employed at apparel factories and knitting mills statewide, according to the California Employment Development Department.

The EDD breaks down apparel and textile employment as “cut-and-sew apparel factories,” which include companies that purchase the fabric, which is then cut and sewn; “apparel knitting mills,” which are vertical manufacturers that produce apparel from fabric that is knit in-house; “textile mills,” which include knitting mills that only make fabric; and “apparel manufacturing,” which includes companies that produce ready-to-wear apparel using materials owned by others (this category includes sewing contractors, jobbers and tailors).

Although apparel and textile production was once spread across California, these days employment is largely concentrated in the Los Angeles area.

Many industry observers say the EDD numbers only represent a portion of the actual apparel-industry employment in the state, however. According to the 2016 Los Angeles Area Fashion Industry Profile, released in February by CIT and the California Fashion Association, the EDD numbers do not include “indirect” industry jobs, such as freelance fashion designers and graphic designers specializing in apparel and showroom owners as well as businesses that focus exclusively on the apparel industry such as software developers, attorneys, accountants, equipment leasing, distribution, compliance and fashion education.

“There is no segment on EDD for designers,” said CFA Executive Director Ilse Metchek.

According to the Fashion Industry Profile, 4,130 fashion designers currently work in LA County and another 520 work in Orange County. And there are nearly 20,000 people employed in related industries such as cosmetics, jewelry and footwear, according to the profile. Southern California is also a center for advertising and marketing, where many fashion photo shoots and commercials are shot, adding employment for photographers, stylists and support staff to the tally.

The CIT/CFA Industry Profile lists industry employment—including direct and indirect employment—at 212,923 jobs.

“[The EDD puts] all the wholesalers together,” Metchek added. “They don’t count the tech. They don’t count the showroom reps. Think about all of the salespeople in all of the showrooms. Are they not part of our industry? If you look at the entertainment-industry numbers, they include agents, they include lawyers, they include accounting firms. Why can’t we? That’s why we do our own analysis and our own report.”